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Molluscum Contagiosum is a common skin condition caused by a poxvirus that infects only the skin. The virus enters the skin through small breaks in the skin barrier. After an incubation period, growths can appear anywhere on the skin. As the name indicates, molluscum is contagious and is spead by direct skin to skin contact. Children, whose immunity is not as well developed as adults, are most often affected by mollescum.
Mollusca are usually small flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths that often become red or inflamed. They may appear shiny and have a small central indentation or white core. Because they can spread by skin-to-skin contact, mollusca are usually found in areas of skin that touch each other such as the folds in the arm or groin. They also are found in clusters on the chest, abdomen, and buttocks and can appear on the face and eyelids. Sometimes, the growths appear in a row.
While molluscum contagiosum will eventually go away on its own without leaving a scar, many dermatologists advise treating. Treatment can prevent the growths from spreading to other areas of a patient's body and to other people.
Treatment for mollusca is similar to that for warts. Growths can be frozen with liquid nitrogen, destroyed with various acids or blistering solutions, or treated with an electric needle (electrocautery) and scraped off with a sharp instrument (curette). Laser therapy also has been effective in treating mollusca. All of these treatments can be performed in our office. If there are many growths, treatment sessions may be needed every 3 to 6 weeks until the growths disappear. Some discomfort is associated with these treatments.